Thinking about how this work can be applied remotely (aka the Pittsburgh Pivot)

Hi everyone,

As I communicated to the project team, I’m hopeful that we can resume our pilots more or less as planned at some point, and I’ll continue to communicate with IMLS about our project timeline and expectations.

In the meantime, @Steph_Miller and I started an email conversation (well Steph started it by raising a ton of interesting ideas, all I did was suggest we start a board thread) about how we can apply this work to current pressing need in our communities. I’m sure it’s on all of our minds right now.

Just to do an inventory of what we have so far:

Any ideas about how we could do double-duty with these efforts to meet community learning needs while many people will not be able to gather?

I’ll start with a few things I’m thinking about:

  • This crisis is deepening the digital divide. I expect that there will be long-term efforts at providing people with tech (for instance a Chromebook and hotspot) to use at home, which would help with access. What about skills though? I could see community-facilitators helping newly connected people learn to use their tech either (a) in-person, within communities or (b) remotely by phone or chat. I’d love to see libraries use our training to train community digital literacy learning leads.
  • To reach people who won’t have reliable broadband, could facilitators use SMS? @Nico_Koenig @grif @dirk have you heard of any of our colleagues trying something along those lines?

@Daniel_Hensley @Nico_Koenig @grif @dirk @Qumisha_Goss
Speaking of the digital divide, NTEN is offering it’s 1st cohort for the Digital Equity Professional Certificate - which is an online learning circle for working professionals like us. I’m currently begging MCL to pay for this course - if they don’t, I’m willing to pay out of pocket, with MCL giving me time to pursue it. It starts April 7th and below’s what I shared with MCL for my request - it would be cool to try an online learning circle cohort together and see what we can use for this grant.

"Due to the impact of COVID-19, I need to retool MCL’s adult technology, workforce development and small business programming to prioritize digital literacy skill development during a time of social distancing and connecting online. To help me strengthen the skills I’ll need and generate new ideas to share with my colleagues, I’d love to take part in the Digital Equity Professional Certificate.

This certification program is run by NTEN, a respected organization that builds capacity at nonprofits through training. When I asked Leana Mayzlina, NTEN’s Senior Program Manager, if she thought this program would help me with my professional goals, she shared “While the curriculum of the certificate doesn’t necessarily focus on how to do digital literacy during times of social distancing (because we want the certificate to be timely, timeless, and relevant regardless of the specific moment we’re living in), I’m sure that will be a very heavy topic of conversation. Faculty are always open to questions and the courses are participative and interactive, so I’m sure discussions will focus on this topic. Also worth mentioning that during the Core, all participants design a project to work on, so I’d encourage that to be your project!”

I think this certificate is a great opportunity for me to learn the best and most efficient practices for supporting digital inclusion via adult programming, that I can implement at MCL. I’m particularly excited about the course Carlos Galeana is teaching: “Teaching technology to adult learners”

This certificate program also aligns very well with an IMLS grant I’m working on with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh for creating communal learning experiences using online content."

Here are the thoughts/ideas/assumptions I shared with Dan - what do y’all think?:

  • I’m starting to think about my public library work (let alone our society) as pre- and post-vaccine, which is at least a few months away

  • During the pre-vaccine phase, we need to strictly adhere to social distancing to protect the most vulnerable of us, which are the community members I most want to reach with learning circles - if libraries open, we’ll probably do something like limited entry (like Target, etc) and only keep the most basic services going, but we have so many shared surfaces (computers, books, tables, chairs), that it’ll take a lot of effort (and cleaning) to even offer the most basic services effectively.

  • I’ve shared this recommendation with my leadership concerning my adult tech, workforce development and small business programming:
    “Due to the reliance of these programs on meeting in person and using shared technology or touching patron devices, and the need to get physically close to vulnerable populations for tech support, we recommend not offering classes until we can ensure the safety of those attending. We shouldn’t have classes in May or June (this is our current programming cycle). If we do offer classes, wait until at least June in order to develop and pilot vetted safety protocols when supporting patrons with technology and we limit teachers to staff, in order to further refine these protocols before involving volunteers”

  • In terms of this project and learning circles, I would love to dig into what distance ed is doing during this time and how that can apply in a public library setting - we facilitate synchronous online/hybrid/in-person and folks have pre-discussion asynchronous online learning and activities (that facilitators can support via email).

  • The MCL programming department (we’re all teleworking, unless we volunteer/get assigned for other emergency duties like shelters, or take admin leave) is taking a sharp turn towards social media and virtual opportunities

  • what if CLP’s P2PU web instance became a model for a public libraries version of Blackboard? I would love that right now - we recently lost our marketing director/social media person, so we have some good staff involvement with this effort and a place where we’ll do some more development is adult learning content, but if we included opportunities to connect with others in your community in a constructive way, I think we’ve got an amazing opportunity here - in this case, I totally would love to pilot something in July (but it probably won’t include volunteers at first - I and my colleagues gotta figure it out, first)

  • I think a place for public library online learning is online facilitation in small, facilitated groups (cohorts) - having too many folks involved in discussions online is unwieldy for our brains and for our heavily-used internet bandwidth - even for the folks with good networks, this seems to be an issue - so we gotta keep it small anyway and keeping it local allows us to be “alone together”

  • Let’s trial Zoom for this project!

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